Friday, November 21

Love Grows (Edison Lighthouse)

In the spirit of full disclosure, we really wanted to go down to Ocracoke, take the ferry over to Hatteras and climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and do the Blackbeard exhibit.  However, we simply ran out of time!  And THAT is when you know you've had a good's been full of fun stuff, and you ran out of time.  You didn't have to scavenge for fun places to go, because there were too many already on your 'to-do' list.....  So, while we were sad that this would be our last stop, we were happy and excited to have done so many fun things on our three-day layover.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

*Sounds like body.*

Tucked away between tall pine trees and freshwater marshland, the Bodie Island Lighthouse remains an important part of local Civil War history. Through all three re-buildings, it has kept a silent watch over the "Graveyards of the Atlantic."
The boys weren't quite sure what to make of it when we arrived.  They knew that it looked familiar, but couldn't place it until we went inside and saw a "Lighthouses of North Carolina" poster on the wall; the same one that they have in their bedroom.
We climbed the nine stories (ten?) and looked out over the marshes, coastal waterway, and Atlantic.  It was a gorgeous, Carolina-blue-sky day!  It was also very windy, which made picture-taking fun.  One lady lost her camera, when it blew out of her hands!
Heading back down, you can see how simplistically-beautiful the spiral staircase is.  You can see that the boys were afraid that I had decided to set up camp by the light, and never come down!
At the base, we posed for a family photo and they completed their Junior Park Ranger mission.  The National Park Services has these Junior Ranger programs at all of their sites, and we have done many.  The kids always get a small token for completing a science or history-based unit about the site, and they enjoy participating.

Lighthouse unit

 Build a Lighthouse

Supplies: (per child)
  • paper plate, 
  • 16 oz or larger Styrofoam cup, 
  • 1 inch toilet paper roll piece, 
  • construction paper, 
  • scissors, toothpick, 
  • wooden bead or pony bead, 
  • glue (foam or tacky glue works best), 
  • scotch tape, 
  • regular markers, & permanent markers

  • You can start by coloring your island with waves breaking over the shore and rocks and trees around the island. If a number of children are making the lighthouse and you want to identify the builders, put their name on the other side and set it aside. 
  • Using the bottom of your “tower”, draw a circle on a piece of construction paper for the Dome [Note: you should use the same color paper you plan to color your lantern room]; cut the circle out and set it aside. 
  • Now you decorate the tower. Using the permanent marker (fine point works best) draw the door and windows. At this time you can color your tower with stripes or other patterns to display your daymark (see examples below). 
  • Glue your tower to the island and set it aside. [Note: If you are making a large number of lighthouses for a group of children, it is recommended that you pour some white glue into a small plastic container that the bottom of the tower fits; dip tower lightly into the glue and place it on the island.] 
  • Next prepare the lantern room. Cut 2” piece of paper roll and cut a 5 ½” x 1” piece of yellow construction paper to make your storm window. Using the permanent marker, make a border along the long edges and, if you choose, down the center of the strip. Tape one end of the strip at the top of the lantern room, wrap it around, and tape the other end. Draw in the astragals (metal frame running vertically or diagonally that divides the lantern room glass into sections) with the permanent marker. 
  • Color your lantern room below the window strip. Using the circle cut earlier for the dome cut a slit to the center and slide one edge over the other to form a peaked cap; tape it together. 
  • Glue the lantern room to the top of the tower and the dome on top. [Note: If making a large number, use the white glue in a plastic container, and dip both ends of the lantern room, place on tower, and attach dome.] 
  • Now take the vent ball and carefully put some glue into the hole [Fast drying glue works best], about ½ full, set it on the peak of the dome, and stick the lightning rod (a 1” piece of toothpick, sharp end up) into the glue in the ball. 

Thursday, November 20

Sailin' Cross the Devil's Sea (Allman Brothers)

Roanoke Island Festival Park

With only one day left at the Outer Banks, we wanted to make the most of our time!  We pared our options down to four more stops...some longer than others.  At the Roanoke Island Festival Park, we got an intensive history lesson on the area, from the native americans to modern times. 
We kicked off the day with a little duck-hunting at the boat museum...then stepped 400 years back in time.  At the settlement site, we saw settlers from the Roanoke Voyage of 1585. They show what daily life was like for the soldiers and sailors who traversed the Atlantic Ocean to build a permanent colony for England.
With guns in hand, we first had to prove that we were friendly, and not here to attack!  Then we were allowed to enter, learn all about black-smithing, and try our hands at woodworking and pottery making.  The boys spent some time practicing their knot-tying skills (also good for cub scouts!), before we jumped forward in time.
On the Queen Elizabeth II, we got to help 16th century sailors set the sails, plot a course with an astrolabe, and swab the decks.  A good friend of Sir Francis Drake told us about his life and mission, and we helped some slaves below-decks to lift anchor.
Springing forward just a bit, we came to Indian Town, where the various aspects of native american life pop up along the trail.  You can roast meats, build a wigwam, and do a rain dance!
Before the visit was over, the boys ended up as a promotional feature for Festival Park.....and Mom ended up in the stocks!!!!!

North Carolina Aquarium

Always a favorite stop when we were kids, we hopped a mile or so from Festival Park over to the North Carolina Aquarium.  Being at an aquarium when you're actually AT the ocean is a little different from being at one in middle America....not better or worse, just different.  The boys hunted for shark teeth before we headed inside.  And.....what is UP with my children sticking their heads inside of crocodiles and sharks???
The hands-on exhibits were very nice.  There are also outdoor exhibits during the tourist season, but we were off-season.  Just like when my sister and I were young, the boys gravitated toward the room-sized aquarium near the front.  I do believe they could have stood there for hours, but..... was time to feed the sharks!!!  An exhibit where they can actually talk to the guy in the tank with live sharks swimming all around him?  Yes!  This one shark was a scary-looking guy, too...
After chatting with the scuba diver, we headed further into the aquarium and got to learn about the local Carolina coastal wildlife.  They were able to see some animals they had never seen before, and even I found a new one....a Leucistic!  Have you ever seen an albino alligator?

The Christmas Shoppe

So, this place actually touts itself as the Island Gallery now, but it will forevermore be the Christmas Shoppe to me.  As a child, our family would spend part of Thanksgiving playing hopscotch for hours outside of this shop, while my mother and several other folks trampled all over each other to get good Christmas bargains.  When the "fun" was over, we got to go inside ourselves and experience the magic of Christmas for as long as our hearts desired!  Many years ago, you would even look up at a certain spot and see Santa Claus hiding in the rafters, watching to see if you were naughty or nice!
Sadly, the shop is under new ownership now, and I wouldn't say that it's changed for the better.  The new owners seem terribly rude, and we didn't spend that long here.  Santa Claus is no more, and they do not like to be asked about it.  They don't seem to like children, no matter how well-behaved, and the Christmas spirit definitely doesn't reside here anymore.  It's a sad place, really.

One Last Stop

So....we had four stops to make, but this was only three....what was the last stop?  Head with us back over the inter-coastal waterway, and find out tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 19

Come Fly With Me (Frank Sinatra)

We couldn't visit the Outer Banks, home of the first airplane flight, and NOT visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial.  My littlest bugaboo is an airplane fanatic, and rightly's in his genes! 
It was a bitterly cold day, so we started inside...learning the mechanics and physics of flight, and then seeing a mock-up of the first successful airplane.  The boys got their missions to join the Junior Ranger program, and we spent a while working on those. 
Once outside, we saw the barns and structures where the Wright Brothers lived and worked on the plane's construction.  Their workspace was considerably larger than the living area!
We stood on the spot where Orville Wright jumped aboard the first plane and took off, that fateful windy December 17th.  The more the boys learned about the Wright Brothers, the more they began to identify with them.  One was outgoing and imaginative, while the other was the quiet, engineering type.  It took them both to take this crazy idea and make it work!  
We hiked the distance up to, and around, the memorial.  Don't be fooled - it's longer than it looks!  We finally warmed up on the hike! 
Looking down from the hill, you can see both the Atlantic Ocean and the inter-coastal's peaceful and beautiful.

Behind the memorial is a metal replica of the airplane that kids can climb on.  We all took turns flying with Wilbur.

Back inside, the boys completed their Junior Ranger requirements, and we headed off for another beach adventure!
First Flight unit :
We dedicate this visit to "Pepe" Landry, our personal patriarch of aviation...